Time Travel Shoujo: Mari Waka to 8-nin no Kagakusha-tachi – 01 (First Impressions)

tts1

Have you ever wondered why there aren’t more anime featuring an optimistic contemporary high school girl who’s a little dense, likes repeat questions and answers back at whoever is talking to her, set in historical periods of scientific invention?

Not even if we meet important people of those periods and have them beat us over the head with thinking of the time, and other context like ‘sailor suits are rather lewd for a girl to wear in 1600 London?’

tts2

Time Travel Girl is not specifically terrible. The high school class drama that wraps around the adventures is visually unattractive and generic narratively, but the show wouldn’t work without it.

But really? I don’t have a strong desire to repeat elementary-middle school history class in anime form. I know that’s the point — that this is based on a book written by a teacher to make learning fun, but there’s no energy to it.

tts3

The Verdict: an unremarkable art style, lack of drama (it’s up beat and sunny atmospherically), leave few hooks to catch the viewer.

…And the protagonist has no charisma so forget any Doctor Who style interactions with the interesting people and places she will visit. Ho hum and a safe show to skip over.

16ratings_6a

 

Alderamin on the Sky – 01 (First Impressions)

ald11

Five students en route to elite military officer exams end up having to abandon ship in a storm, and end up with their princess behind enemy lines.

First of all, Alderamin avoids a common pratfall of warring-country fantasy shows—the introductory infodump—by simply plopping us right into the thick of things, letting pertinent facts crop up in natural conversation, and trusting its viewers. This felt like a supremely confident show, with taut dialogue and attractive characters.

The protagonist and reluctant hero is Ikuta, who should, by all rights, be immensely annoying, and yet remains almost painfully likable throughout the episode. He’s seemingly quietly good at everything, including war, and yet he hates war and exerting energy of any kind.

He’s also an enthusiast of women (a poonhound if you will), but he’s kept nicely in check by his longtime friend Igsem. Ikuta and Igsem’s frienship is an early hook for me. Igsem is strong, proud, and supremely confident in who she is, what her relationship with Ikuta is, how to deal with him, and most importantly, isn’t trying to change the rascal.

It’s nice to see a boy-girl pair good friends without being either a couple or overly confrontational to each other, and I enjoyed their banter, chemistry and comedy. Not to mention Igsem is voiced perfectly by Taneda Risa (Rory from Gate).

ald12

I even enjoyed the rather lengthy scene of the five soldiers meeting below decks. Each character has a distinct look and personality, and it’s fun to watch Ikuta bounce off them one by one. Heck, he even gets an inappropriate comment about the princess in after she momentarily appears at their door.

But generally, things in this scene stay nice and breezy, capturing the close quarters, boredom and need to pass time a maritime journey consists of. It also lulls us into a sense of security that’s suddenly, rudely thrashed when the ship hits a storm and starts to go down.

ald13

Ikuta also shows that while he can be a cad, he also won’t hesitate to rescue a drowning girl in a storm, at the risk of his own life.

Mentioning before the ship sinks that chess between soldiers is most properly played blindfolded (due to the need for a general on the ground to fill in blanks of a battle with their imagination), Ikuta clearly has a good sense of things.

It’s auspicious, then, that his act of heroism was directed at none other but the princess of the empire he serves, the 12-year-old Chamille Kitora Katjvanmaninik (Gesundheit!), voiced ably by the always adorable Minase Inori.

ald14

Ikuta, along with gunner Torway Remion, also discover that they’re in the territory of their sworn enemy, the Kioka Republic. When he reports this to the princess and the others, and lists their choices (surrender, which is easy, or attempt to break through the border, which is a gamble), Princess Chamille rejects surrender with extreme prejudice.

Watching a member of the royal family really gets to Ikuta (surprising even himself) but while he overreacts (requiring Igsem to take him down) the princess realizes she overreacted as well, and the group decides to take a couple of days to figure out what to do.

ald15

Like the meet-and-greet aboard the ship, things get light again, with the group having a sumptuous feast, and Ikuta even has time to weave himself a hammock out of leaves (like I said, guy can do everything). The moment Chamille “got it” and entered into the Church of Hammocks (of which I’m also a practicing member) was lovely moment perfectly curdled by a Kioka scout blimp sighting.

Just as life was perfectly normal aboard the ship until it suddenly snapped, the group’s haven is breached just as suddenly. Chamille is also every bit a little kid, too, as she runs far too far away to go to the bathroom and ends up being pursued by Kioka soldiers.

She’d have been in deep doo-doo were it not again for—you guessed it—Ituka distracting her pursuers; neither his first, nor likely his last, demonstration of heroism, leadership, and immense competence. Funny how the first episode of this “chronicle of fantastical warfare” didn’t have any actual warfare in it, and was still more than adequately entertaining. I shall be back for more!

16rating_8

Thunderbolt Fantasy – 01 (First Impressions)

tf1

The Gist: twins contain two parts of an important holy sword that an evil demon warlord wants because he’s super evil. One twin dies and his somewhat hapless sister falls off a cliff only to be rescued by the beginnings of a odd-ball troop of master warriors.

And yes, it’s done in a perfect blend of traditional Chinese live action martial arts cinema AND the thunder birds puppet style. It’s a little choppy but the articulation of the puppets is top notch. (no mouth movement but eyes can blink — even cry or spurt blood)

tf2

Hard rock hair, almost as hard core as the guitar banging away in the background.

You may enjoy Thunderbolt Fantasy for its novelty, for its dedication to over the top action, if you enjoy classic Chinese Warriors with swords movies, or if you can down enough Adderol to actually process all that action without caring about the cliche (and bluntly idiotic) plot.

You should watch the first episode even though you may not like it because, lets face it, the plot is paint by numbers and the characters are pure cliche. Additionally, despite being ‘generally coherent,’ the nature of puppets doing complex acrobatics in the rain and lighting with CGI energy attacks/magic wooshing around limits the viewers ability to really follow whats going on.

tf3

The verdict: Thunderbolt Fantasy deserves several points of credit for trying something very unusual in its presentation. It also deserves props for using the aesthetic successfully to boot.

However… the plot and blandness of the characters are not for me. Even if it’s awesome to see them periodically explode into a bloom of blood, cloth and practical effects.

16rating_8

91 Days – 01 (First Impressions)

91d1

Seven years after his family is killed in a mob power struggle, Avilio returns to the town of Lawless, reuniting with his friend Colteo to sell his quality moonshine to discriminating customers on the “Island.”

They end up facing the Orco family’s new attack dog Fango, but manage to escape with their would-be-buyer, who turns out to be Nero Vanetti, the son of the man who killed Avilio’s family.

91 Days wastes no time establishing Avilo’s backstory and resultant vendetta, and the title leaves no doubt as to how long he’ll have to get his vengeance.

91d12

What might be lacking in complexity or surprise in the story is made up for by 91 Days’ rich, detailed, earthy prohibition-era setting. There’s a pall of melancholy and fallen grace everywhere, no more overt than a church on an island converted to a bar.

Unlike GANGSTA, this is a show that sticks to realism; no magical super-beings here, just good old-fashioned blood, brawn, sweat, and smoke. The weapons are bats, bullets, but exclusively knives in the case of Avilio, who has clearly been honing his mind and body for this quest for revenge thes last seven years.

91d13

Even a wild dog like Fango doesn’t faze Avilio when the guy interrupts his negotiations. In fact, he uses it as an opportunity to show his worth to some people who seem important, and turn out to be the very people he wants to get close to.

Avilio is a man with nothing to lose, since he already lost it all, so he’s no someone you want to bet against. That being said, there isn’t much else to his character, at least not yet in this first episode. His childhood pal Colteo welcomes him back in his life, but I wonder how long he’ll last, as he’s not as hard or strong as Avilio has become.

91d14

Where the originality comes into play is Colteo’s mad distillery science, and the decisive blow to Fango is a chemical reaction that harkens to seven years ago, the night Avilio’s fam was murdered, when then-Angelo put out a candle with his finger, showing it was the paraffin burning.

Colteo hoped to make money off his quality hooch so he could go to school, but now that he’s swept up in Avilio’s plans, that’s probably not going to happen.

For all the looming stone buildings and iron bridges in Lawless, There’s a distinct sense of impermanence to 91 Days. Avilio probably doesn’t want to be on this earth any longer than he needs to take care of business, and he probably won’t be. I’m looking forward to seeing how he uses his 91 days.

16rating_8

Kono Bijutsubu ni wa Mondai ga Aru! – 01 (First Impressions)

kono1

The Gist: Usami Mizuki has a crush on fellow art club member Subaru but he’s obsessed with creating the perfect 2D waifu. The club has a lazy president and also a girl who never shows up… except she’s actually always there, just observing everyone silently from the art locker.

Usami draws fruit. Subaru draws waifus. Usami experiences several cliched ‘unrequited love’ scenes with Subaru, who’s indifference to her feelings is almost funny. Almost. Usami occasionally becomes well animated and violent. Not much else happens.

kono2

There is no reason you would enjoy KBnwMgA. It vaguely resembles Nozaki-kun, but with less likable characters and weaker comedic timing. The music is classic disney background filler — up beat but mindless.

There’s no sense of time and space either because we only experience these characters ‘after school’ save for one flashback to when Usami and Subaru met at the beginning of the year. Usami even has an emotional ‘crying that Subaru is leaving the club’ moment at the end of the episode… but we’ve had so little time with these characters, and she has so little reason to even like Subaru (he’s a jackass) that the scene is rendered emotionally pointless.

kono3

example of an odd choice: the girl in the locker (above) is not revealed to the cast during the episode. This means we never get a ‘joke’ about her being in there…

The Verdict: You’ve seen everything here done better before. The resulting show makes you anxious for something interesting to happen and irritated when nothing but cliches do happen.

Somehow the humor doesn’t break through the monotenous music and minotenous love story and, without humor, there is no real point. It isn’t terrible but it is so utterly without personality I found it very hard to watch and for that reason, I can’t even give it an average score. (there’s not even a genre you may like that could justify setting aside time to give it a pity watch)

16rating_4

Onara Gorou – 01 (First Impression)

ona1

Onara Gorou is an efficient, budget production, single concept anime that runs for 3 minute. It’s about farts and, more specifically, Fart-san, who lives in an unnamed balding man who does not speak.

This week, a trio or delinquents are on the roof facing off against a trio of teachers. The joke is that each time the delinquents do something more delinquent, the teachers become less motivated to chastise them, to the point of not caring at all about smoking.

Then a Fart-man shows up, talks about Digestion, and the Delinquents vow to change their ways, sobbing.

ona2

Not counting deforms, there were roughly 8 frames of animation in this episode. (This includes 2 dedicated to diagramming the act of digestion and farting) It’s super cheap, and the art style is unpleasant, but it works for the tempo of the humor.

You may find Onara Gorou funny, at least as a one-off novelty, but I can’t imagine watching 12 during a season. There’s not enough to it.

16rating_5